August 10, 2007

Bakesale Betty [Berkeley]

Bakesale Betty - Better than yo' grandmama's secret family recipe

For being as brainy as they are, Berkeley students seldom venture far form the 2-mile bubble that the campus seems to be under. While this puts them in proximity of overpriced downtown eats for the theater set and passable dorm alternatives, they are far from the Foodaholic Anonymous concentrations of Elmwood, Temescal, Rockridge, the San Pablo Corridor, West Berkeley, and Fourth Street—in other words, they have overlooked everything that Berkeley has to offer an aspiring palate.

Perhaps it was that I lived too far (1.5 miles) to be bothered with campus parking (I never went to class) or the twenty minute walk, but I always made an effort to explore my neighborhood and its culinary communes.

Famished from my apartment and furniture hunt, I went in search of something to satisfy both my budget and well-honed Berkeleyan sentiments about food. I remembered an article about Bakesale Betty’s cult favorite Fried Chicken Sandwich ($7.25) and decided to celebrate my return with the non-diet-friendly indulgence.

I had been to Betty’s for a pastry and coffee one morning and while it was busy, it was nowhere near as bustling as the lunchtime crowd gathered on the sidewalk tables. As I was about to walk in the store, a baker came out and stopped at each table to deliver fresh baked cookies. Rats! I missed the free sampling!

Although I already had an item in mind, I couldn’t help but lust after the endless trays of peaches waiting to baked into today’s pies and the strawberry shortcakes gleaming from behind the glass cases. The guy at the cash register may have been flirting with me, but I was too smitten to hear a thing he said.

But alas, I was practicing moderation and went on my way after receiving my brown paper bag with said sandwich waiting inside. I made the mistake of ordering it to-go so I could eat while driving and ended up having to pull over because the darned thing was just too big and messy for my tiny little lap.

Bakesale Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwich

The sandwich is accompanied by the mildly spicy version of coleslaw that omits the mayonnaise in favor of a mustard vinaigrette. The heat in the flavoring is contrasted by the cooler temperature and texture of the cabbage. If that's crunchy or spicy enough for you, there's also the twice-fried, buttermilk-battered chicken to take into account.

The white-meat cut of chicken breast--or breasts, I should say (mine came with two)--doesn't skimp on moisture or flavor. The secret lies in the frying batter, which is generously seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne to give the chicken a kick worthy of an Emeril BAM. I was worried when I saw the trays of chicken waiting around to be served, but my de-boned, de-skinned, and de-feathered friends stayed crunchy till the last bite.

If that weren't enough to entice you, I've got four syllables: ja-la-pe-nos. Sliced fresh and served in the vinaigrette. The Acme torpedo rolls are a perfect choice to compliment the fillings.

While the recipe was recently published in the Chronicle, why would you risk burning yourself with frying oil when you could get the stuff made fresh from the source. Betty's fried chicken rings in at staggering 995 calories, so if your figure-concious like me, save half for tomorrow, making sure to bake all of the elements separately in the toaster oven before enjoying.

Bakesale Betty's
5098 Telegraph Avenue
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 985-1213

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